The Man Who

An introduction to Doctor Who by Graham Kibble-White

First published July 2000

An introduction to Doctor Who? A redundant exercise really, as surely no one requires a potted history, a few pointers, a who’s Who on this series? But, a modicum of scene-setting is required here: and that is to explain just why OTT has decided to cover Doctor Who. Not that Who is somehow unworthy; in fact it’s quite the opposite and we will welcome resultant, disgruntled e-mails telling us we’re “unworthy of the diamond logo”. It’s just that part of the OTT remit is, and I quote, “to cover programmes and subjects that are perhaps underrepresented on the ‘net.”

Throw the phrase “Doctor Who” at a search engine and you will get in the region of 31,560 hits. Who is no shrinking violet online. Additionally, it has it’s own monthly publication and it’s spawned numerous novelizations and reference books. There’s a lot out there on Doctor Who. However, to not include the series on the site felt too arbitrary an omission. We profess here to study and represent contemporary and classic British TV and therefore the absence of Doctor Who was causing a creditability problem. Like it or not, the programme had to be addressed.

It’s not the easiest series to get one’s teeth into, in fact. There’s something about Who that brings about a blank panic in the writer; it’s the guv’nor of telly. Additionally, one knows that whatever one produces will be up for the most painstaking scrutiny and – even more unnerving – comparison with the reams of material already out there.

The brief for contributing to OTT’s Doctor Who section was simply to try and find something new to say about the series. Come up with a new take. With this in mind a Stalinist dictate was issued, forbidding the use of certain phrases and ideas that have become something of a cliché in Who parlance and a writer’s crutch. Perhaps it was overly anxious to ban “the Pertwee era” or references to the show’s last producer as “JNT”, but we hope that this has contributed to the adoption of a new mindset in writing about the programme. If not, then it will at least perhaps provide the more au fait Who reader with some base amusement in trying to spot which phrases and ideas we purposefully avoided.

Happy – as they say – times and places.